Matt Leinart Hits the Jackpot; the Perfect Storm for the Houston Texans

Kenneth MContributor IIINovember 16, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 16: Quarterbacks Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens and Matt Leinart #11 of the Houston Texans greet each other after the Ravens 29-14 win at M&T Bank Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 29-14.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Everything in life has its time. Sometimes the timing is horrible. Take Peyton Manning, who gets injured for the first time of his career, this year, when his team is complete crap, so bad they lose all of their games, possibly fall into the first pick of the draft and the best quarterback prospect in years is entering the NFL. Bad Timing. 

But then, sometimes the timing is perfect, as is the case with Matt Leinart and the Houston Texans.

Matt Leinart was the golden boy from Hollywood when he entered the NFL. His pro career didn't live up to the hype. After Kurt Warner stepped into Arizona, he was no longer a leading man, instead settling for backup duties. When Kurt Warner left, the Cardinals should have been his again, but Coach Ken Wisenhunt cut Leinart despite the Cardinals having no real NFL quarterback on the team.

Over a season and a half have passed since then, and Matt Leinart is still more famous for being a Trojan than for anything he's done in the NFL.

That may change.

Before this season started, Leinart had a chance to reunite with his college coach, Pete Carroll, in Seattle. Seattle had Charlie Whitehurst returning with Tavaris Jackson as another option. At the time it looked like a perfect situation for Leinart to fill the void left by Matt Hasselback.

He didn't bite, instead choosing to return to Houston knowing he wouldn't get much playing time. Heck, he never even got into a game for the Texans in 2010.

Why would he turn down a chance to start? I don't know. But he's got his chance now. 

In what may be a perfect storm for Leinart and the Texans, the timing of this couldn't be better. 

Bye Week

For one, this happened right before Houston's bye week, which gives him a full week to get mentally prepared for this game, much like Carson Palmer who signed with the Raiders just one week before their bye.

There is no other comparison between he and Palmer's situation, however, unless you count that they were both Heisman winning quarterbacks at USC of course. Leinart comes in with over a year in the offense, he knows his players, and he has a skill set not dissimilar from his predecessor at the position.

Win Streak

Another reason the timing is so great is that Houston is on a four game win streak and are finally considered to be one of the best teams in the game. The team is riding high with confidence because they are winning without their stars Andre Johnson and Mario Williams.The team knows that they finally belong.

Had this move happened just a few weeks ago, before the win streak, and just after the loss of Williams and Johnson, the Texans might have just considered it another unlucky break. They might have lost a few close games and feel that they are destined to never make the playoffs, as was the case for past few years. 

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans calls a play in the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 13, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Texans won 37 - 9. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Ge
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Was anybody talking about the Texans as an elite team a few weeks back? Nope. Not until this week did everyone look at them and realize how well they are playing. 

Division Lead

With Peyton Manning out of the picture, the Texans are finally in charge of the AFC South. For the past decade the Colts have dominated the division, and Houston was never able to get over the hump. Leinart steps in knowing Peyton is out of the picture. 

This new found confidence makes the transition much easier.

Return of AJ

Andre Johnson is coming back. Enough said. The team is losing their starting quarterback, but the backup is going to have one of the biggest and baddest NFL receivers to throw to. Talk about a confidence booster. Who would you rather lose, Matt Schaub or Andre Johnson? The gap between Leinart and Schaub is not as big as the gap between AJ and pretty much any receiver around. 

With the team on a hot streak, and one of the best safety valves a quarterback can have returning, Leinart has everything in his corner.

They are full of confidence and can see the playoffs just ahead of them.

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Wide receiver Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans fends off  linebacker Jameel McClain #63 of the Baltimore Ravens as he gains a first down late in the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium on December 13, 2010 in Houston, Texa
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Running Game

Did I mention Houston's running game? The Texans have the best 1-2 combo at running back in the NFL, and are having their way with opponents on the ground. Nothing is easier for a quarterback than handing the ball off to Arian Foster behind the strong O-line. The team is third in the NFL in YPG on the ground. 

Some teams may stack the box to try and slow down the rushing attack, but with Andre Johnson split out wide, the defense can't cheat too much no matter who is behind center. Damned either way. 

Control of the Game

The Houston Texans have the No. 1 rated defense, allowing only 270 yards per game. Add that to a dominant running game on offense, and the Texans control the ball and the pace of the game more than any other team. 

What are the keys to success in the NFL? Great running game, great defense and playmakers at your key offensive positions. True, if this injury happened at any other time, Leinart and the Texans would still be in good shape.

However, with Andre Johnson returning, a bye week and a four game winning streak behind them, Matt Leinart and the Houston Texans are set up for big things. 

Whether this was what he envisioned when he decided to come back to Houston, who knows, but not many people have been so lucky.  


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